BHOPAL: The officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigating into the money laundering aspect of the multi-crore Katni hawala scam, desperately want to question Satish Saraogi but has been unable to do so because of want of security guards to escort him to Indore for questioning. Saraogi is said to be a key person in the entire racket.
Katni hawala scam was a major issue of an agitation in the town in January this year launched by local people with transfer of the then superintendent of police Gaurav Tiwari being the trigger point. The agitators alleged that the government shifted the SP at the behest of the state MSME minister Sanjay Pathak as he was about to arrest the minister in connection with Rs 500 crore hawala racket.
Saraogi was said to be close to the minister. However, Sanjay Pathak denied having any involvement in the racket and also the transfer of the SP.
“We have half a mind to file contempt petition against the jail superintendent of Satna jail for his repeated refusal. How can the jail superintendent can cite want of guards a reason when the chief judicial magistrate Katni’s order clearly states that the jail authorities have to cooperate with the ED which has the powers to issue summons under Section 50\2 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act,” said an ED source.
The ED has been trying to get hold of Satish Saraogi ever since he was arrested in March 16, 2017, but their attempts have been thwarted at least third time in the past one month and half months.
Director general Jails Sanjay Chaudhary said, “The matter is not concerning the jail. It’s a duty of district police to provide guards.”
Katni, superintendent of police, Shashikant Shukla said, “Two days ago, jail authorities had asked for the guards but due to processions and rallies, there was a shortage of police personnel. We have asked them to set another date. We will send them soon. This is a routine thing and happened in low profile cases too.”
Sources said that the ED authorities had tried to question Saraogi in Katni jail but the atmosphere was not conducive.
“People were walking in and out of the room, and one jail official was always present. What is more the chair given to us was a broken one. One cannot grill a suspect in such conditions, so we decided that he should be questioned in Indore,” said a source.
Questioning of Satish Saraogi is important. For, he along with his brother Manish, who is absconding, holds the key to the scam, the ED officials believe.
At the behest of Saraogi, crores of rupees were allegedly laundered between 2008 and 2010 via accounts of bogus firms opened in Axis Bank, Katni using documents of ordinary individuals and BPL card holders.
Another suspect Santosh Garg is dead. He had absconded after the scam broke in 2016 and died in Haridwar reportedly due to natural causes. Manvendra Mistry who was arrested in February, 2017 by police and has been questioned by the ED has not parted with much information, sources said.
The scam came out in the open when the income tax department started giving notices to the bank account holders to explain how they came in possession of such huge amounts.
On Febraury 28, Home minister Bhupendra Singh replying to a query in the Assembly had said on receiving a complaint, police registered a case (number 738/16) on July 12, 2016 under sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 120 B, 423, 424 of the IPC for further investigation. He also said that so far 32 persons were served notices, 24 interrogated and two persons arrested in connection with the scam.